An observation from Neil Cosgrove, one of StPatricksDay.com’s readers:
St. Patrick’s letter is not to the soldiers of Coroticus (actually soldiers of that time would very rarely be able to read). It is actually to the Bishops of Brtain asking them to censure Coroticus (who was a Briton). Thus the refrence to takingalms etc, – Ref: Part II, Sec.7
Per Cahill and “How the Irish Saved Civilization”,
Patrick’s goal was to isolate Coroticus, hopefully having his Bishop even excommunicate him, until his captives were free. Serving an excommunicated leader would cause his soldiers to fear serving him as they would believe they too would be damned.
I am Patrick, yes a sinner and indeed untaught; yet I am established here in Ireland where I profess myself bishop. I am certain in my heart that “all that I am,” I have received from God. So I live among barbarous tribes, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He himself testifies that this is so. I never would have wanted these harsh words to spill from my mouth; I am not in the habit of speaking so sharply. Yet now I am driven by the zealof God, Christ’s truth has aroused me. I speak out too for love of my neighbors who are my only sons; for them I gave up my home country, my parents and evenpushing my own life to the brink of death. If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of themstill look down on me. I Cor. 15:10 Phil. 2:30
I myself have composed and written these words with my own hand, so that they can be given and handed over, then sent swiftly to the soldiers of Coroticus. I am not addressing my own people, nor my fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but those who are now become citizens of demons byreason of their evil works. They have chosen, by their hostile deeds, to live in death; comrades of the Scotti and Picts and of all who behave likeapostates, bloody men who have steeped themselves in the blood of innocent Christians. The very same people I have begotten for God; their number beyondcount, I myself confirmed them in Christ.
The very next day after my new converts, dressed all in white, were anointed with chrism, even as it was still gleaming upon their foreheads, they were cruelly cut down and killed by the swords of these same devilish men. At once I sent a good priest with a letter. I could trust him, forI had taught him from his boyhood. He went, accompanied by other priests, to see if we might claw something back from all the looting, most important, thebaptized captives whom they had seized. Yet all they did was to laugh in our faces at the mere mention of their prisoners.
Because of all this, I am at a loss to know whether to weep more for those they killed or those that are captured: or indeed for these men themselves whom the devil has taken fast for his slaves. In truth, they will bind themselves alongside him in the pains of the everlasting pit: for “he whosins is a slave already” and is to be called “son of the devil.” Jn. 8:34, 44 (O.L.)
Because of this, let every God-fearing man mark well that to me they are outcasts: cast out also by Christ my God, whose ambassador I am.
Patricides, they are, yes and fratricides, no better than ravening wolves devouring God’s own people like a loaf of bread. Exactly as it says: “the wickedhave scattered your law, 0 Lord,” which in these latter days he had planted in Ireland with so much hope and goodness; here it had been taught and nurturedin God’s sight. Eph. 6.-20 Acts 20.-29 Ps. 14:4 Ps. 119.126
I do not overreach myself, for I too have my part to play with “those whom he has called to himself and predestined” to teach the gospel in the midst of considerable persecutions “as far as the ends of the earth, even if the enemy reveals h’s true envy through the tyranny of Coroticus, whofears neither God nor the priests whom he has chosen and to whom he has given the highest divine power, namely that “those whom they bind on earth are boundin heaven.” Rom. 8:30 Matt. 16:19
Accordingly, I beseech especially you “holy and humble in heart,” that it is unlawful to flatter men like these, nor should you eat or drink in their company, neither should anyone feel any obligation to receive alms from such men; not until the time comes when they do penances so harsh thattheir tears pour out to God, and that they agree to free those servants of God and the baptized handmaids of Christ. For these did he die, for them was hecrucified. Dan. 3:87
“The Almighty turns away from the gifts of wicked men.” “He who offers sacrifice from the goods of the poor, is like a man who sacrifices a son in the sight of his own father.” “Those riches,” it is written, “which he has gathered in unjustly will be vomited out of his belly.” “And now theangel of death comes to drag him away. He will be mauled by angry dragons, killed by the serpent’s tongue. Moreover, everlasting fire is consuming him.” So,”Woe to those who feast themselves on things that are not their own.” Or, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the lossof his own soul?” Ecclus. 34:19-20 Job 20.15-16, 26 Hab. 2:6 Matt. 16.-26
It would take too long to discuss or argue every single case, or to sift through the whole of the Law for precise witness against such greed. Sufficient to say, greed is a deadly deed. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. You shall not murder. A homicide may not stand beside Christ.Even “He who bates his brother is to be labeled murderer.” Or, “He who does not love his brother dwells in death.” therefore how much more guilty is he, whohas stained his own hands in the blood of the sons of God, those very children whom only just now he has won for himself in this distant land by means of ourfeeble encouragement. Rom. 13:9 Exod. 20:13, 17 I Jn. 3:15, 14